“Fraser Anning charges taxpayers to try to legitimise neo-Nazis,” is barely a sensational headline. Nothing about Anning’s appearance at the hate rally in St Kilda is surprising. Given he faces a crowded field for the racist vote, he had to do something to separate himself from Hanson, Katter and even the LNP, so I suspect he views the angry response as positive publicity.
Anning’s attendance at the rally wasn’t the whole story of the day though. I feel there are some other noteworthy points that have been overshadowed and are worthy of more attention.
According to most reports, the widely-promoted rally only attracted around 150 people. That is a fairly pitiful turnout and- as has often been the case for rallies like this- was massively outnumbered by the counter-rally. To my way of thinking that is a pretty significant repudiation of what these right wing extremists stand for and makes a mockery of any claim by organisers that they are standing up for a silent majority. The majority spoke loud and clear and they don’t want what Cottrell and co were selling. Well done Victorians.
Perhaps that shouldn’t have even been a surprise when you look at who was at the rally and what happened. The Facebook page was taken down for repeated threats and exhortations of violence towards others by its members. Two of the organisers are convicted criminals and regularly incite violence towards minorities. And then there were the attendees. Proudly imitating Nazis with their saluting and brandishing Nazi insignia at the rally. There were also a number of reported incidents of violence and anti-semetic vandalism by rally members after the event.
If anything, this sort of crap would have embarrassed and potentially turned away less-extremist community members who may have their own concerns around immigration. As it should. It should embarrass any who try to prosecute a similar right-wing nationalist agenda and maintain the guise of civility.
This rally is the true face of the dishonesty of Andrew Bolt, Pauline Hanson, Peter Dutton and their ilk. Don’t let opportunist politicians and their allies in the Murdoch press smugly distance themselves from any aspect of this event. For years, they have sought political and commercial advantage out of feeding the fear and hatred that inevitably leads to these types of rallies.
Will they ever take responsibility though?